Tofino‘s Spruce Tree Ale suggests heading into the woods in order to truly appreciate the taste of this beer, and always being one to follow instructions, I packed a bag with bug spray, suntan lotion, and a bottle of beer and set off on a hike. My wife and I went to Grotto Canyon, just outside of Canmore, with a bottle of Spruce Tree Ale in my day pack, and when the time was right, I pulled the bomber bottle out of my bag along with a couple makeshift pint glasses and we dug in.
Appearance: When I popped the top on the bottle and poured it into the makeshift glasses we brought with us (we actually used plastic freezer jam jars, which are surprisingly effective pint glasses), a very thick bone-white head developed on the cloudy copper/amber beer. The head stuck to the beer and stayed around longer than it took us to hike the four kilometres into the canyon. There was even a fair amount of lacing on the side of the jam jar – and that’s quite an endorsement.
Aroma: What comes through on the nose more than the spruce tips are the hops. There are floral smelling hops that are welcoming and urge you to dive into this unique beer. Tofino is right, this is a beer that should be enjoyed outside and the aroma leads you out the door. I was expecting more spruce tip aroma than what is given off. The beer has a similar aroma to an IPA, with strong hops and a bitter smell.
Taste: This is where there spruce tips are hiding. Behind the bitterness of the hops, you are left with an aftertaste of spruce that makes you feel like mountain man Grizzly Adams. While most beers give you the feeling that you can go talk to a pretty girl on the other side of the bar who is out of your league, this beer makes me feel like I should be chopping wood and fashioning a log cabin – or at least attempting to whittle something. It’s a very different confidence booster than I am used to.
Feel: The beer has a very pleasing mouthfeel. It is mouthcoatingly thick, while being an easy drinking beer. It is effervescent with a good amount of carbonation that was able to maintain its head, even in a plastic freezer jar.
Overall: This is the second Tofino beer that I have had the pleasure of writing about here. I also wrote about their wonderful Hoppin’ Cretin IPA a couple of months ago and this also isn’t the first beer using spruce that I have taken a look at. A couple of months ago friends of mine gave me a growler of Skaway Brewing Company’s Spruce Tip Blonde Ale as a wedding present, so that’s my comparison for Tofino’s Spruce Tree Ale. While both offer a drinkable ale with a woodsy spruce flavour, Tofino’s Spruce Tree Ale is so well balanced, between the hops and the spruce tips, that I have to give the nod to them. The spruce flavour is definitely present in this beer but it doesn’t overwhelm the taste of the other elements present in this brew.